-- by Rob Ramsdale
Taken in the Rain
24 lb. - 11.5" beard - 1.5" spurs
Why do you turkey hunt
in the rain? I've had many people question my sanity
when I insist on hunting even when the rain is falling.
The truth of the matter is, as a turkey hunter, you
only have a limited amount of hunting time available
to you each spring. If you only hunted during perfect
weather days, you would be severely limiting your
time afield. That's especially true during a hunting
trip out-of-state where you may be limited to just
a few days of hunting anyway. If you are like me,
you are going to spend every minute of that out hunting.
Rainy days do put a damper
on a hunter's spirit but the birds are still out there
just being turkeys. They are just a little harder
to find and call in. Now, if it comes a hard downpour
with wind and it sticks around all day, even I do
not like to be out hunting. But the spring is full
of those days where there is intermittent rain or
times where there is a light drizzle all day. It's
those type of days I actually look forward to.
One of the biggest advantages
of hunting in the rain is simply your ability to see
turkeys. Nothing will make a turkey more visible than
rain since they like to get out of the woods and go
out in the fields and short pastures where you can
spot them. Turkeys cannot hear very well during a
rain storm so they will move out in the open where
they can depend on their eyesight more for protection.
Almost any experienced turkey hunter will tell you
to head to the fields when the rain is coming down.
I used this to my advantage
one year when I took the old gobbler shown here. I
knew of a particular little field that was just a
magnet for turkeys when it rained. During one especially
rainy day one spring, I made a decision to go turkey
hunting a little after noon and try to be there later
that afternoon or evening when the birds hit the field.
This field was really out in the open so my best chance
would be to set up along the turkeys path coming into
the field. I did just this setting up along a fenceline
of a pasture that led down to the open field.
After, I got setup I
did some calling on a glass friction call and almost
immediately got a gobble response. I called once more
and he gobbled right back. I then shut up and waited
for awhile since the bird sounded like he was about
300 yards away up in the pasture. After about 15 minutes
I called again with no response this time. I was disappointed
but not really worried since I was in the perfect
spot between him and the field which now had a small
bunch of hens feeding in it.
I waited a little longer
and sent out a soft series of yelps. I heard a very
distinctive gobbler cluck off to my right. I still
could not see the bird but I knew he was probably
within 50 yards or so behind a small bunch of cedars.
I then let loose a couple of cluck and purrs and laid
my call down. About a minute later a very wet and
bedraggled old gobbler came wandering around the cedar.
He was not strutting and if I had to describe his
walk, I would say he was skulking; like a rooster
pheasant does when he is running through cover trying
to stay hidden. He was a pretty sorry looking bird
but there was nothing sorry about the beard hanging
down from his chest. I shifted the aim on my gun and
pulled the trigger.
This was not one of those
classic video hunts where the bird comes in gobbling
and strutting all of the way. This was a 2 gobble
and one cluck hunt from an old and wise bird who as
far as I know never strutted once on the way in..
He looked like a half-drowned turkey vulture when
he came around that cedar but he was responding to
calls in a fairly steady rain. This hunt proved to
me that even when they are soaked, gobblers still
are thinking about hens.
Tips to remember for rainy day gobblers -
- Hunt the fields , open pastures
and old roadbeds. Turkeys like to get out in the
open when it rains.
- Switch to friction calls rather
than use mouth calls. You can hear a friction call
at a much greater distance, especially in the rain.
Carbon and acrylic strikers for your friction calls
can help when it's raining.
- Use a plastic bread bag or something
similar to cover your box call or friction call.
You can effectively run a box call in the rain as
long as it stays dry inside a plastic bag.
- Be prepared for silence. Rainy
days are not comfortable days for turkeys either
and they will mostly be quiet. Think about what
mood you would be in if you were wet and cold. The
turkeys, like most everything else, are not in a
good mood and will not be gobbling near as much..
They're cold and hungry and will be found near a
food source or out in the open.
- Carry and use a good pair of binoculars.
You will have to depend more on your sight than
your hearing to find gobblers. The turkeys will
be more visible during the rain since they cannot
hear as well so they like to get out in the open
in fields and pastures or roads so they can use
their eyesight to spot approaching danger.
- Cover the hunting ground slowly
and methodically. Turkeys will most likely be out
in the open so you'll have to patiently look for
your turkeys where you think they may be visible.
You probably won't be able to call to find them
because the birds won't gobble back as much in the
- Stay comfortable by dressing for
the weather. If it's raining, wear rain gear so
you can stay out in the woods. If it's cold, make
sure you've got proper gear to stay out and keep
warm. You can't expect a turkey to show up right
away. You've got to be patient and weather the storm.
To do that, you've got to have the right clothes.
For me, the vinyl style ponchos work great in the
rain. I know there is a lot of high-tech clothing
available now but none of them seem to work as well
as the old fashioned vinyl or rubber ponchos or
- Use the rain to your advantage.
You can move in closer to turkeys when rain is falling
because they can't see or hear you as well as they
can on a sunny day.
- Go scouting. Rainy days are also
good days to scout prior to the turkey hunt. If
you learn where the turkeys are in the rain, you
can use that knowledge to your advantage later.